The Montreal suburb of Hampstead, parts of which sit nearby the rails of the Cote St. Luc yards, is uniting to try to ban hazardous materials from trains passing through Canadian cities and is promoting a petition to that effect. 

“There's no doubt in my mind that if we ever had a disaster like Lac Megantic in a huge city, it would be a disaster,” said Hampstead Mayor Bill Steinberg, who said that prevention would be much cheaper than recovering from disaster.

Hampstead resident Luba Lallouz said that she has spent two decades trying to find out what is inside the containers that pass on the tracks near her home, but to no avail.

She eventually established a partial list of the potentially-dangerous chemicals simply by reading the words on the passing trains with her binoculars. They include methyl choloride, sodium choloride, acylic acid, hydroxide, peroxide inhalation and sulpher dioxide.

The train traffic has also increased significantly since she moved to the area 33 years ago.

“You could count on one hand how often the trains came by. Then they decided to close the trains downtown on St. Antoine and shipped everything up here into the Cote St. Luc yards,” said Lallouz.

Pam Wener is one resident who has signed the petition supported by the municipality.

“I hear the trains passing through at night and my husband and I have discussed many times: ’what if?’” asked Wener.